Her memories are vivid. She loves Alexandria. And she loves her home. After living in the city for 71 years, Mary* not only appreciates the city’s rich history but grows with it. In fact, everywhere she looks, she recollects memories from different parts of her life.
As a native Alexandrian who grew up on Queen Street, Mary remembers when Quaker Lane used to be mud lands, and when shops on Mt. Vernon Avenue had to close due to the floods. As a private nurse who often worked at the Goodwin House during her 30-year career, she met and cared for many well-known people and their family members, including a relative of Jackie Kennedy.
She experienced segregation during the Civil Rights era but felt that outside of school, boundaries faded and kids got along. This was especially the case during a family tragedy. When her brother drowned as a young boy, the entire community came together working to find him.
She also fondly recalls the American Legion where she and her friends would dance. That’s where she met Tom. He was a long-distance bus driver and Korean War vet who served alongside Elvis. Tom asked Mary for a date for eight months before she finally said yes. More than 45 years later, she and Tom have built a great life and traveled all over the country.
In that time, she has never found anywhere else that she truly felt was “home.” Living in the historic area of the city, she appreciates the comfort of her home. She describes loving it “from the porch to the back yard. It may not be up to par, all beautiful with luxurious furniture, but I love it here. I never want to leave this place.”
She describes the neighborly feel of the city as making her stay a lifetime. If she reaches out, someone reaches back. That’s why she is grateful that Rebuilding Together Alexandria, a nonprofit that provides free home repairs to homeowners in need, reached out to them.
Mary describes going through the mail when she saw a Rebuilding Together application. She stopped to read it, suddenly realizing that they needed help keeping up their home. Although they had worked hard, the maintenance required on their home had outstripped their financial and physical abilities. Mary says that it took some prodding to get Tom to agree to fill out the application as it is hard to accept help. But after they did, they were delighted by the repairs and upgrades provided by Rebuilding Together Alexandria’s volunteers.
They also are grateful for Rebuilding Together’s work that has helped people throughout their beloved city. As Mary and Tom’s history continues to become entwined with the city’s history, they are also pleased that Rebuilding Together is part of theirs.
If you would like to apply, volunteer or donate, visit www.RebuildingTogetherAlex.org or call 703-836-1021.
- It is Rebuilding Together Alexandria’s policy to not disclose full names.